Ronald Coase, the British-born American economist awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1991, once said “Torture the data, and it will confess to anything.”
Indeed, data can be a rich source of information. No wonder people like to gather it and analyze. Especially in today’s world, where managers want to capture every part of work in the form of data. But on the other hand, it all contributes to the information noise. That’s why it’s important to filter out only what really matters. And what is the best way to do that if not use special software?
The SaaS market is filled with various tools for employee monitoring. Not only are they used to monitor work, but most of all, to collect data. Time tracking software, project management software, collaboration software are just a few of their official names under which they are commonly known.
And it’s not that easy to select the one and only software when there are hundreds if not thousands to choose from. Going through extensive lists of features and tutorials of each tool to see how they work is too time-consuming and may bring up more questions than resolve doubts.
So this time, to help you better understand one of the many tools, I will analyze ActivTrak. I’ll see what it is, how it works, what it has to offer and how it can improve your work.
What is ActivTrak?
On ActivTrak website you can read that “ActivTrak’s invisible Agent tracks and measures work activity without relying on human input. This unbiased dataset includes usernames, application title bars, website URLs, activity duration, screenshots, idle time, and USB activity.” In other words, it’s an employee monitoring software.
Signing up for ActivTrak is completely free. Even with the free plan, you can have a deep insight into employees work. But for more advanced features such as unlimited data storage, exporting all reports and screenshots, localized data center, and many others, it’s best to upgrade to Advanced plan which starts from $7.20 per user / per month.
ActivTrak started as a LAN-based product but over time it largely expanded and currently is used by thousands of customers. The team’s office is based in Dallas, TX, USA and that’s where the software comes from.
How does it work?
To fully see how ActivTrak works, you need to sign up. That’s a piece of cake, you only have to enter your email address, create the password and voila! your account is ready. Once you sign up, you can invite your team or do it later. It’s best to do it after you get to know the software. But to be able to fully use it, you need to download ActivTrak Agent (available for any desktop operating system). It’s necessary for collecting the data.
ActivTrak Agent works completely in the background. After installing it on your computer, it immediately starts collecting data on your activity and shows it on the dashboard, which is divided into 11 sections:
- Quick stats
- Top users
- Recent screenshots
- Top applications
- Top sites
- Top categories
- Pending categorization
- Top groups
- Top alarm risk scores
This allows you to have a general overview of all the data. You can see information for different users and different periods of time (days, weeks, months, years). But I have to admit, I’m impressed with all the numbers and information I can see. And everything just in one place. The software shows literally everything that happens on the computer during work.
If you want to see more details, you can access left sidebar with more options. It has 10 icons, but I’ll go through nine of them as these are the most important.
Dashboard to monitor your activity in one place
That’s the main view that you will see after signing in to your account. And here you can see all the 11 above mentioned sections. It’s a quick way to have a glance at all the most important data. But now, to see more detailed reports, you can choose other sections in the sidebar.
Real-time activity to monitor workflow
This section simply shows all activities happening in the real time. You can choose the user and see what they’re doing at the moment as well as take a look at everything they did before. It’s an activity log with information such as the type of activity (productive or nonproductive), screenshots, data, time, computer, user, duration of activity, application, and title/description. Quite detailed information about employees’ activity, isn’t it?
Reports to analyze your activity and team’s behavior
Here you can see all the data on activities for days, weeks, months, years or custom time, and users. Similarly to “Real-time” section, it shows the type of activity (productive or nonproductive), screenshots, data, time, computer, user, duration of activity, application, website.
Additionally, you can export reports to CSV file or save them to Google Drive. It’s particularly useful if you need to share that data with stakeholders, customers, team members or people who don’t have access to the software.
But there is one more important feature – alarm. You can create an alarm which will be triggered when new entries to the Activity Log match the conditions set by you in the alarm’s settings. If you suspect someone at your organization to act against the law and you know they threaten your business, it’s a great way to catch them red-handed!
There is also risk report, alarm log, and data access by the use of SQL. Everything that’s necessary for effective employee monitoring.
Screenshots for more demanding users
Screenshots in ActivTrak are basically reports in the visual form. They include all the information on your or employees activities.
That allows you to precisely see what you were doing when and for how long. It’s useful in improving productivity. The view of too many screenshots of Facebook in your work time will definitely motivate you to work better.
You can also configure screenshot alarm as needed.
Blocking to keep safety and productivity
“Blocking” is simple, it allows you to block certain websites so that you or members of your team cannot access them.
Alarms to schedule notifications
In this section, you can configure alarms. If you add a website to an alarm, ActivTrak will inform you about the activity, so you can monitor a team member who visits the site. You can also get a notification whenever someone inserts a USB (but you have to adjust settings to be able to get that type of alarm).
Settings for personalization
As in all other apps, you can also adjust preferences in ActivTrak when it comes to details in reports. And there are several things you can do:
- Assign categories
- Define which activities are productive and nonproductive
- Manage groups – add new groups and members
- Use aliases for your team members for convenient reporting
- Choose for which users you don’t want to track activities
- Create and adjust schedules – hours during which your team’s activities will be tracked
- Choose the time zone
Account to manage your profile
Here you can adjust settings such as who is an admin, change profile information, add ChromeBook users, access Security Audit log information – a centralized stream of every setting changed in the dashboard by an ActivTrak administrator or user, and access invoices.
We all need a little help sometimes
It’s quite important to mention this section. Why? Because there’s nothing wrong with asking for help when you have a problem, don’t know how a certain feature works or if you have other questions. That’s what help is for.
Here, you will find interesting resources, helpful information, FAQ, you can create a ticket or even submit feedback.
And that’s all, folks. That’s what ActivTrak looks like. Now you can go back to my data and analyze it.
ActivTrak – can it help your business?
ActivTrak seems to be a simple employee monitoring software but it’s actually a powerful system for gathering and collecting data. With all its features it’s a valuable source of information.
ActivTrak is a software suitable for individuals and teams. It doesn’t matter which industry you work in, as long as you need data to improve your results and make sure the right processes take place in your organization, this solution will fit your needs.
But keep in mind that it’s not only about data. It’s about understanding how work gets done, what are your and your team’s behaviors, and how processes look like. The software allows you to see a bigger picture of what’s going on in the organization, monitor employee performance and track and measure productivity.
Here are some use cases that will help you determine whether ActivTrak is the right software for you:
- You have noticed that during certain days in certain months the productivity of your team decreases and that, in turn, has a negative influence on the tasks they’re performing. That’s when ActivTrak comes in action. You can sit down and analyze your team’s behavior to find out what’s affecting their efficiency – check which applications they’re using (maybe it’s the fault of the wrong software), what time is their productivity hitting the bottom (they might be too tired with work overload). You can then brainstorm and try to eliminate the problem together.
- You’ve just opened your business and your work includes collecting and processing extremely sensitive data with the use of the internet, for example, using cloud services or communication software. ActivTrak can help you not only protect the data (alarms, blocking websites) but also track cyber attacks launched on your organization – you can trace suspicious activity based on the reports created by ActivTrak, site by site, to find where the criminal activity might come from.
- You feel you spend too much time on Facebook or other distracting websites 😉 You can actually use it to block them to make yourself focus on relevant tasks. That’s actually the number one reason Mike from our team decided on installing and using the software on a regular basis.
ActivTrak is a tool that everyone can use to work better and get the most out of every minute.
Is ActivTrak worth implementing in your business or daily work?
I personally think that ActivTrak is a great software. After just an hour of using the app, I was able to get detailed data about my activity. It gives me a clear picture of everything I do.
I can use it to analyze literally everything that’s happening during my work and find the cause of problems with work. I can even get to such details as what was the weather at my most unproductive day and realize that I had a big headache that day due to the changes of the atmospheric pressure, and I was simply not able to work effectively! (Yes, that’s what you can find out!)
If used in a smart way, the software can help enhance work not only of entire organizations but also of individuals. Also, if you use it with other tools, you can turn into productivity superhero.
It’s also worth mentioning that ActivTrak keeps all the data secure and guarantees an obstruction from cybercrime that your business can be exposed to if you’re working with sensitive or extremely confidential data.
- Easy-in-use, intuitive
- Helpful in optimizing business research
- Helps to understand how work gets done – team behavior analytics
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